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Definition :

The low artificially built part of a structure which transmits the load of the structure to the ground
is called foundation.


A foundation (also called a ground sill) is a structure that transfers loads to the earth.

Concept :

Foundation of a structure is always constructed below the ground level so as to increase the
lateral stability of the structure.It includes the portion of the structure below the ground level and
is built, so as to provide a firm and level surface for transmitting the load of the structure on a
large area of the soil lying underneath. The solid ground on which the foundation rests is called
the Foundation Bed.

Purpose of Foundation :

All engineering structures are provided with foundations at the base to fulfil the following
objectives and purposes;

1) To distribute the load of the structure over a large bearing area so as to bring intensity of
loading within the safe bearing capacity of the soil lying underneath.
2) To load the bearing surface at a uniform rate so as to prevent unequal settlement.
3) To prevent the lateral movement of the supporting material.
4) To secure a level and firm bed for building operations.
5) To increase the stability of the structure as a whole.

Shallow Foundations :

Foundations provided immediately beneath the lowest part of the structure, near to the ground
level are known as shallow foundations. Such foundations are mostly placed on the first hard and
firm strata available below the ground level. Shallow foundations are further classified into the
following types:

1. Spread footing or open trench foundations

2. Grillage foundations
3. Raft foundations
4. Stepped foundations
5. Inverted arch foundations

1) Spread Footing Foundations :

Foundations constructed by increasing the area at the base of the structure by means of offsets,
are called spread footing foundations. In such foundations, spread is given under the base of a
wall or a column by providing offsets. This spread is known as footing and the foundation itself is
called spread footing.
Broadly speaking, all types of shallow foundations can be referred to as spread footing
foundations. However, from design and construction point of view, they have been designated
separately. The various types of spread footing foundations are ;

a) Wall footings:

This is a common and the simplest type of spread footing foundation; It consists of a number of
courses of bricks, the lowest being usually twice the thickness of wall above. In this type of
foundation, the base width of the wall is increased by providing 5cm (one-fourth of brick length)
offsets on either side of the wall. The depth of each course is usually 10 cm.

In some cases, however, the bottom course is made 20cm deep. In the case of footing for store
walls, the size of offset is slightly more than that of the brick wall footing.

Method of Construction of Wall Footing:

For constructing such a footing, a bed of lean cement concrete (1:8:16) is first laid over the entire
length of the wall. The thickness of this lean concrete bed is usually kept 15cm and its width is
kept 20 to 30 cm more than that of the bottom course.

In no case, the depth of the concrete bed should be less than its projection beyond the wall base.
For foundations over firm soil or compacted ground, the concrete bed below the brick wall footing
may be dispensed with. After laying the concrete for constructing the concrete bed, it should be
properly compacted and cured before laying the base course of the wall.


This is the cheapest type of spread footing foundations and is largely used for walls of ordinary

b) Masonry Pillar Footing:

Isolated footings are used to support the individual pillars and columns constructed in brick or
stone masonry. They are stepped down in the wall footing after providing 15cm offset of
foundation concrete on all the sides.

c) Concrete Column Footing:

These are either stepped type, slate type or slope type, having projections in the base concrete.
To support heavy loads, reinforcement is also provided at the base. The reinforcement provided
is in the form of steel bars and is placed in both directions. Concrete column footings may be
either isolated footings or combined footings. Isolated footings are used to support the individual
columns, whereas combined footings are used where projections of different columns are not
possible on all the sides, due to limited space.

The combined footings are generally rectangular in shape when both columns are of same
sections and trapezoidal in shape when the columns are of different sections.
2) Grillage Foundation :

The foundation which consists of one or two tiers of wooden or rolled steel section with space
filled up with concrete is known as Grillage foundation. This is so called because the bed
constructed in this type of foundation is called grillage. This type of construction avoids deep
excavation and provides the necessary area at the base of the structure to reduce the intensity
of pressure within the safe bearing capacity of the soil.


The object of this type of foundation is to spread the load over a large horizontal area at the
base of a structure.


Depending upon the material used in construction, grillage foundations are further classified into
two types.

1. Steel Grillage Foundation

2. Timber Grillage Foundation

Steel Grillage Foundation

Method of construction of steel grillage foundation:

1. For constructing steel grillage foundation, a trench is excavated to the calculated width
and about 0.90 m - 1.50 m deep. Bottom of the trench is rammed and leveled.
2. Then a layer of lean cement concrete ( 1: 8 : 16 ), about 30cm thick, is laid and
3. After this, a layer of rich cement concrete (1: 2 :4 ), about 15cm thick is spread and
compacted to form a concrete bed.
4. Over the concrete bed thus prepared, the bottom tier consisting of a number of steel I -
beams of designed dimensions are placed at specified distance apart, using spacer
bars. The space in between and around the steel beams is then filled with cement
5. On this bottom tier, a second layer of steel I - beam is placed, if required.
6. The entire space is then filled with cement concrete 1: 2 : 4. On the grillage bed thus
prepared, the structure in the form of a steel stanchion, column, pier is built.

For construction of the timber grillage foundation,

1. Wooden planks, usually 5 to 8 cm in thickness, are laid side by side longitudinally on the
prepared bed of the trench excavated for this purpose.
2. The planks should be arranged in a width 45 to 60 cm more on either side than the
designed width of the base course of the structure.
3. On this bottom layer of planks, rectangular timber sections of suitable size are laid at
about 35 cm center to center.
4. Then a top layer of planks, usually 8 to 10 cm in thickness, arranged side by side, in
width equal to that of the base course of the structure is to be built over it
5. On the timber platform thus prepared, the structure in the form of a timber column or
even a masonry wall is built.
Suitability of steel grillage foundation:

Steel grillage foundations are useful for structures like columns, piers, stanchions subjected to
heavy concentrated loads and hence are employed for foundations of the buildings such as
theaters, factories, town, halls etc. Timber grillage foundations re usually provided for timber
columns subjected to heavy concentrated loads.
This type of grillage foundation can also be safely used for light buildings where the soil
encountered is soft and is permanently water-logged.


The foundation consisting of a thick R.C.C slab covering the whole area of a mat is known as
raft foundation.

Method of construction of Raft Foundation:

1. The whole area is dug out to the specified depth and 30 cm more wide than the area to
be covered.
2. The bed is compacted and sprinkled over with water.
3. Then a layer of lime concrete or lean cosncrete ( 1: 8 : 16 ) is laid to a suitable thickness
to act as a bottom cover.
4. After this, the reinforcement is laid. The reinforcement consists of closely spaced bars
placed at right angles to one another.
5. Then the cement concrete (1 : 2 : 4 ) is laid and compacted to the required thickness.
6. The concrete slab so laid is then properly cured
7. When loads are excessive, thick concrete beams running under the columns can also
be constructed.


This type of foundation is useful for public buildings, office buildings, school buildings, residential
quarters etc, where the ground conditions are very poor and bearing power of the soil is so low
that individual spread footing cannot be provided.


For constructing this type of foundation, excavation is done into steps having short length and
uniform thickness and the masonry work is done on the horizontal bed of concrete thus

If there is any possibility of slipping of the structure bodily, R.C.C piles can be driven along its
base concrete on the sloping side.


The foundation consisting of inverted arches between the piers is known as inverted arch
foundation. In this type of foundation, the load from the piers is transferred to the soil by
constructing arches in inverted position at their at their base. The rise of the inverted arches is
about one - fifth to one - tenth of the span and they are usually build in half-brick rings. The position
of arches may be either along the row of piers or across the row of piers in both the directions
depending upon the nature of soil and the type of land to be taken by them.

For constructing this type this type of foundation;

1. Excavation is done to the required depth.

2. The bottom of the excavation is leveled and compacted
3. Then the foundation concrete is laid to the required thickness and finished according to
the layout of the arches to be constructed under the piers.
4. The arch rings, usually half brick thick, are then built in cement mortar and piers are
5. The end piers should be designed and constructed to take the outward thrust caused by
arch action.


This of foundation is not commonly used for buildings, but it is quite suitable for other structures
like bridges, reservoirs, tanks, supports for drainage lines etc.


The foundation constructed sufficiently below ground level with some artificial arrangements
such as piles, wells etc, at their base are called deep foundations. Deep foundation are further
classified into the following types ;

1. Pile foundation
2. Well foundation
3. Caisson foundation


A foundation ( spread footing or grillage ) supported on piles is called a pile foundation. A pile
foundation usually consists of a base of spread footing or grillage supported by piles at their
bottom. Piles distribute the load of structure to the soil in contact either by friction alone or by
friction combined with bearing at their ends.


This type of foundation is suitable under the following situations ;

1. When the soil is very soft and solid base is not available at a reasonable depth to keep
the bearing power within safe limits.
2. When the grillage and raft foundation are very expansive.
3. When the building is very high carrying heavy concentrated loads.
4. When it is necessary to construct a building along the sea shore or river bed